I actually have something new to report this week.
In my last post I described how draping the Fenwick quarter sheet of Cider's croup while she was being groomed and saddled positively affected her. After that I went on line to the Fenwick site and bought her a pair of pastern wraps and a pair of leg wraps. Since the Fenwick leg wraps are just a rectangle of fabric they need something to hold them up, so the next time I talked with Shannon I asked her to find the BOT exercise boots I bought Cider a few years ago.
The next week Shannon told me that they were down to two more boxes as far as finding the BOT exercise boots, so I only got to try the Fenwick pastern wraps on her front legs. Shannon figured out how to put the Fenwick quarter sheet on, with the flat end under the cantle, so it covered her croup. The results were heartening, Cider was flinching less all around the ring, and in the flat areas of the ring she did not flinch AT ALL! Going down-slope was still iffy and she took great care, the same for any areas that were sort of broken up (hoof prints, grass footing, unleveled.) I was ecstatic!
Last Sunday Shannon had Cider's BOT exercise boots out! She spent a minute or so carefully wrapping the Fenwick leg wrap around each of Cider's cannons, then putting on the BOT exercise boot carefully, making sure that the leg wrap was not wrinkled. Cider was wearing, overall, her BOT poll cap, Fenwick face mask with ears, BOT Contender II shimmed saddle pad, all of which she has been wearing for years, plus the Fenwick quarter sheet over her croup, and on her front legs the Fenwick pastern wrap, and the Fenwick leg wraps under her BOT exercise boots (the BOT exercise boots were not new, we've used them before). Cider moved a little bit better out to the ring.
I mounted Cider, we moved out, and she DID NOT FLINCH. Not only that but Cider did not pointedly remind me to get my butt out of the saddle for the first 5 minutes, except going down-slope and over broken ground. Cider NEVER flinched the whole ride, no matter what part of the ring we were traversing. Going down-slope she started off hesitant, as if she expected to hurt more, but the flinching never came and she started relaxing. I used less leg to keep her moving, she lowered her head, and Shannon said she looked much more comfortable and happier. When I backed Cider up it was easy, and Shannon said she backed up straighter.
I did not expect this result at all. I had given up on Cider never flinching, the only reason I have been riding her the last few years is that Shannon asked me to since I am lighter than Shannon, she wanted to keep Cider moving and Shannon liked the results of the mild physical therapy I did with Cider.
IF this amazing progress continues, I plan to go on using the Fenwick stuff on her just about permanently, go on walking the next three rides, carefully start asking Cider to extend her walking stride a little bit, and see how she goes. The biggest danger of bringing a horse back physically is doing too much, too soon. Even though we humans would like to see how vast this transformation is, trying to increase Cider's performance too fast is guaranteed to make her worse again. Cider moved differently under me, she was not moving her back as much since she was not trying to make the pain in her front legs less. Cider has been using muscles that are not the muscles we need for a good performance, and we will have to strengthen the proper movement muscles gradually. Cider is in her later 20s and it just takes longer to bring an older horse back to full soundness. Patience is the key!
After three more rides I will ask Shannon to watch Cider closely to evaluate her new-found soundness, because if this continues I might be able to trot Cider again without her limping. IF Shannon sees nothing doubtful I may introduce trotting again, for a short distance, on the most level ground in the ring. IF Cider trots sound in a short trot I will increase the amount of trotting work GRADUALLY, at a slow trot.
There is also the possibility that Cider feels good enough to trot and will give me an unaided trot. Even if she volunteers this I will keep it short, then speak with Shannon and evaluate if she looked sound enough to introduce short trots to each ride.
This is an amazing transformation. I do not know if it will last, but I do know that I can really mess it up if I demand too much, too soon. This transformation is due to the Fenwick quarter sheet, the Fenwick pastern wraps, and the Fenwick leg wraps with the BOT exercise boots over them. Before I used this stuff in this way, Cider was flinching every step of every ride.
I REALLY hope I have finally found the “magic key”!
On the other hand MJ did not have an amazing transformation, he has been going sound anyway. The only positive difference with using the Fenwick pastern wrap is that I no longer HAVE TO stay up in two-point the first five minutes of my ride.
Have a great ride!